Craftworlds Codex Review: Heavy Support: Fire Prism

If what you crave is lasers for daysers, then the Fire Prism is the tank for you! Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.

Overview

The Eldar are masters of all kinds of laser weaponry, especially the members of the Craftworlds- from infantry weapons such as those carried by Swooping Hawks all the way up to the much-feared Bright Lance and Scatter Laser mounted on heavy vehicles, no other race makes as much use of coherent beam technology as the Eldar. The Fire Prism sits as the pinnacle of such technology (not counting relics such as the Deathstalker), using an array of crystalline focuser and condenser arrays to create a piercing beam of unprecedented power that can shear right through even the heaviest of armor and scour the enemy from cover with pinpoint precision.

Fire Prisms come on the standard Craftworld vehicle chassis; a 16″ move makes them quite speedy and able to keep on the move easily (especially in combination with Fly) and toughness seven, twelve wounds, and a 3+ save make it defensively on par with the battle tanks of most other factions in the game. It similarly has a pretty mediocre set of melee stats (S6, A3 or less, WS6+), but that will hardly matter at all given its role and nature. Finally, BS3+ (degrading in the usual fashion) means that it is about as accurate as its attacks as you’d expect from the faction. Clocking in at a base 160pts with standard equipment, Fire Prisms are pretty affordable even when taken in multiples.

Wargear and Special Rules

The Fire Prism, being a vehicle, lacks most of the Craftworlds special rules, although it does have Explodes and Hover Tank (meaning you measure ranges to its hull rather than base) like most units of its type. More importantly, however, it comes with Pulsed Laser Discharge- which, as any Battletech fan knows, is most certainly better than a regular laser. So long as the Prism moves at half speed or less, it can fire its main gun twice at the same target and on the same mode- a straight up doubling of its output. Combined with the stratagems and other tools available to it, this can make the Fire Prism a real killer so long as it isn’t forced to be moving around a ton, which it really doesn’t want to be doing anyways.

Speaking of that main gun (the Prism Cannon), it is a pretty dang flexible weapon that comes with three distinct fire modes for different targets. Dispersed mode is for killing any kind of single-wound models, with S6 AP-3 and d6 shots normally- like all three versions, it can cross the table (60″ range) easily, so only BLOS terrain is any real impediment to it. Focused mode drops in shots to d3, but goes up to S9 AP-4 and d3 dmg, thus being your standard killer of multiwound targets such as vehicles, monsters, or heavy infantry. Finally, the Lance profile is useful for killing extremely heavy targets, provided they aren’t toting an invuln or the likes- it gets only a single shot, but is S12 AP-5(!) and d6 damage.  All three modes are Heavy, so the tank definitely wants to keep to one point whenever possible.

In addition to its main gun, a Fire Prism also carries a twin Shuriken Catapult (12″ S4 Assault 4 rends on 6s) underslung as a point-defense weapon; this can be upgraded to a Shuriken Cannon (24″ S6 Assault 3 rends on 6s) for 5pts, which is not an unreasonable proposition. The extra range isn’t awful and means you have a lot better chance of getting to shoot with it, but on the other hand you’d really prefer that the enemy never got close enough for that to be a possibility, so I think there’s some debate to be had on the matter.

A Fire Prism can also select items from the Vehicle Equipment List, though some are more useful to it than others. The Crystal Targeting Matrix is the main contender- for only 5pts, it lets you ignore the penalty for moving and firing a Heavy weapon so long as you shoot at the nearest target, which can help a Prism be a bit more mobile over the course of a game. Spirit Stones are also a solid option, giving you a 6+ ability to ignore wounds for only 10pts. Vectored Engines and Star Engines are a lot less useful and won’t really ever be worth bothering with, since making any use of them means giving up your shooting.

Uses

A Fire Prism’s role in an army is pretty simple- it is a dedicated guntank, existing to sit somewhere in the back line and blast away at the enemy. Getting ~7 high-strength high-AP shots against infantry targets or ~4 against vehicles, there are few things that it can’t put some serious fear into, although its performance against hordes is a bit lackluster- a common theme for Eldar. A Fire Prism is potentially one of the more efficient sources of long-range damage for a Craftworlds army at this point, filling the same niche as Dark Reapers and comparing favorably to most other options (Crimson Hunters, Wraithlords, etc) in terms of point efficiency.

One of the big factors in the Prism’s favor is its unique stratagem, Linked Fire. For a single command point, you can activate it when one of your Fire Prisms fires; that Prism “holds” its shots until the end of the shooting phase, waiting until all other units have fired. Any of your other Prisms that shoot their main gun at the same target as that one declared against can reroll all failed hits and wounds as well as draw LOS from the original Prism- as can the original, once you reach the end of the phase. Although being forced to delay some shots without knowing the exact effects can be a bit annoying (as it is very possible that you waste them or otherwise end up not firing to best effect), giving full rerolls to up to three big shooters is a pretty big deal and can really make them into a devastating fire platform. A full trio of Prisms average 20 wounds against typical vehicle targets (or “only” 10 against a Magnus with no buffs/debuffs), which should be more than enough to devastate most things. For this reason, if you’re planning on running Prisms you really want to be running the full trio of them, to take maximum advantage of the stratagem; you might not activate it every turn, but you probably will more often than not and you want to be getting all the mileage out of it you can.

Although the Fire Prism shines (GET IT??) offensively, on the defensive it is a lot less impressive- though T7/3+/W12 is hardly shabby, it won’t stand up to any kind of sustained fire from the enemy, even if you manage to get the benefit of cover. Similarly, once the enemy is in assault with the tank it probably won’t last too long if they are at all competent. Its main defense against attacks- and especially melee- is its long range, as it can outrange even Lascannons and similar heavy weapons; only a handful of artillery and massive direct-fire weapons in the game reach out as far as it does, a fact that you should take full advantage of. Also, don’t forget that it can Fly, allowing it to reach places many units can’t- hovering on top of a building is a perfectly legitimate place for a Fire Prism that finds some assaulters getting uncomfortably close.

Whether or not you need a Prism team in your list will depend a lot on what other sources of firepower you bring; if you have a lot of high-AP multidamage weapons elsewhere, or if you are allying them in from another faction (e.g. some Ravagers or Voidweavers), it may be wholly unnecessary to bring Fire Prisms. But, on the other hand, if you find yourself with mostly anti-infantry shots in the rest of your army, as is often the case for Craftworlds, it can pay to bring in a trio of Prisms to shore up your weaknesses- the flexibility on their main gun is extremely useful, as it allows you to take on many different kinds of targets effectively.

Countering

Although Fire Prisms can be pretty powerful, they certainly are not without their weaknesses as well. We already mentioned one of the major ones, namely that they are not particularly resilient. Although the Alaitoc bonus (and potentially Lightning Reflexes) can mitigate this to a significant degree, once you start hitting them with Lascannons or the like, they will go down pretty fast- potentially in just two shots, even. Positioning your heavy weapons in more aggressive fashion such that they can reach to even the far corners of the enemy deployment zone will ensure they can’t escape your reach, and once you start laying firepower into them they will go down pretty easily. Backfield harassment/reserve units can also do a lot of work here, as Prisms are even more vulnerable than most Craftworld unit to having a unit drop in close and cause a lot of damage. They can escape from combat fairly easily, of course, but any time you force them to move you can make them a lot less effective in their shooting, and in some circumstances you may even be able to make them move far enough that they don’t get to double their shots, which is just perfect.

Also remember that as a direct-fire weapon (albeit one with very long range), Prisms are limited by line of sight just like most other guns. They might have the reach to cross the board, but that doesn’t mean they can get to your guys if they’re hiding behind ruins, crates, hills, etc. 8th Edition games really should have a good amount of blocking terrain on the table to prevent things from devolving into a shooting gallery, and Fire Prisms are a great example of this.

Prisms also have several kinds of targets they don’t really like shooting at; things with strong invulns (4++ or even 3++) can make life very hard for them, and as mentioned earlier horde units can also be pretty obnoxious for them. A couple blobs of forty Cultists backed by Magnus is just about the last thing on earth that Fire Prisms want to see across from them, other parts of the army aside. Large numbers of small units (e.g. 5man Strike Teams) are also very problematic for them, as it denies them the ability to use their stratagem effectively, as they can’t focus on any one target in particular. This can also apply more broadly as well- a trio of Prisms is much happier firing at a single vehicle that has twelve wounds rather than three vehicles with four wounds each, even though the latter is nominally easier to deal with in a lot of ways. It isn’t a crippling weakness, but it definitely is a thing that lowers their effectiveness by a fair chunk.

Final Thoughts

As shown as the London GT, Fire Prisms are more than capable of making top tables at tournaments despite their weaknesses- properly supported by the rest of a list, they can make for an excellent backfield component that provides highly-accurate and damaging fire support wherever it is needed. Though they lack some of the durability and mobility of their competitors, they can more than make up for it in the ability to focus down on a single target and eradicate it in a series of volleys, so if you’re tired of seeing enemy superheavies and blobs of big guys, there are few better choices than a Fire Prism.

As always, remember that you can get your wargaming supplies at a discount every day in the Frontline Gaming shop, whether you’re looking to start a new army or expand an existing one.

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About abusepuppy

AbusePuppy is the one who has been ruining 40K for everyone this whole time. He is also searching for the six-fingered man and is one of the three people who know the secret recipe for coke (not the soda, the illegal drug.)

16 Responses to “Craftworlds Codex Review: Heavy Support: Fire Prism”

  1. Braini May 30, 2018 6:13 am #

    The focused mode is S9, not S8, big difference against those t8 Tanks and soon to be more t8 knights. Also linked fire only needs at least 2 prisms. But a trio might be nice against a big knight. Although the new big knights might smoke at least one prism per turn…

    • abusepuppy May 30, 2018 8:39 am #

      Whoops, that’s a typo. Thanks, fixed.

  2. Víctor Yanguas May 30, 2018 6:26 am #

    Dont you find the fireprism unrealiable because Of random shots and random damage?

    • Zool May 30, 2018 8:04 am #

      The double shooting and the 1 CP linked fire makes it up for the random shots and damage. The all hit and wound reroll is just so strong.
      Also with the linked fire u can shoot with 2 fire prisms from cover. U can even sacrifice Pulsed Laser Discharge and move 16″ with the linked tank for best position. And the 2 hiding tanks will still fire twice and reroll everything.
      U cant even lock it down in combat, it falls back half movement range and still fire twice.

    • abusepuppy May 30, 2018 8:41 am #

      I’m pretty much with Zool on this one. Although random numbers of shots can be annoying, with the Focused profile (which is what I use most often) 2d3 shots is getting you your average pretty often, and only very rarely will you get the dreaded minimum. 2d6 shots with dispersed is a lot more unreliable, but it’s something you can live with.

      • Reecius
        Reecius May 30, 2018 9:36 am #

        Yeah, we still get quite a few comments from people that claim random shot weapons are flat out bad but it just isn’t true. Most armies have methods to mitigate it built in with re-rolls (and you always have CP). I use them in most of my lists and often find them to be my best long range firepower.

        I think a lot of it is people not actually using them, or perhaps not utilizing the tools to make them more reliable? I am not sure, but it is strange to still get that type of response this late into the edition, IMO.

        • Ujayim May 30, 2018 10:56 am #

          People don’t like random. I think that’s fairly consistent across all factions.

          • Reecius
            Reecius May 30, 2018 11:31 am
            #

            Oh for sure, that is understandable. But there’s a difference between not liking something and claiming that it is bad as I am sure you understand.

          • Ujayim May 30, 2018 12:25 pm
            #

            Of course.

            Unfortunately, people will often go for the consistent option purely because it makes for a more reliable list.

          • Reecius
            Reecius May 30, 2018 12:46 pm
            #

            Sometimes, yes. But often the consistent option is 1, so for me I am fine with it in most instances. To each their own, but the random number of shots isn’t that big of a deal IMO.

          • WestRider May 30, 2018 9:01 pm
            #

            Randomness is a fundamental part of the game. We overcome it with volume of dice and redundancy. One thing relying on a single d6 roll is bad, because the odds of a poor roll are relatively high. When you’re getting a total of, say, 6d6, the odds of it turning out really bad go way, way down.

            It’s why Orks (and Orcs) have generally been pretty consistent Armies, despite their built-in randomness: they’ve got the volume of dice to be able to lean a bit heavier on the law of averages.

          • Ytook May 31, 2018 2:03 am
            #

            But that weapon will be used multiple times in a game, and in conjunction with likely multiple weapons like it. It’s only a single roll with high variance if you look at it outside the context of an actual game.

          • WestRider May 31, 2018 3:05 pm
            #

            @Ytook: For the just plain 1d6 example, I was thinking of things like some of the Relics that are once per game. It’s a big part of why The Forbidden Gem and The Eye of Night suck, for instance.

            When you can take multiples and use them more than once per Game, that provides the redundancy that makes these options viable.

  3. Visitor May 30, 2018 11:20 am #

    A single Fire Prism isn’t to impressive altough it never hurts to have one. Two or more with linked fire can get pretty nasty.

  4. Addnid May 31, 2018 9:10 am #

    You can also overcome fear of randomness by just remembering that it is FUN… But on a comp level, indeed with weapons that fire twice, we need not fear that d6 or d3, as the second wave will be there just in case, and if this one is bad too… Well then its just one tank costing under 200 points, no biggy if you roll poorly on both shots.
    I think players who fear most the randomness of the game are control freak types (“I hate this game I keep rolling poorly, yet I clearly outplayed and outmanoeuvered you, oh the rage I feel aaaaah”)

    • abusepuppy May 31, 2018 10:10 pm #

      Mitigating randomness is a huge part of being able to reach the upper echelons of tournament play, like it or not. That doesn’t mean completely cutting it out of your list (indeed, several top-placing Eldar lists have had Prisms in them recently), but it does mean that you need to be wary of its effects.

      It’s less about being a control freak and more about needing your units to do what you want them to. The old 3E Berzerkers, who would chase after the nearest unit and try to assault it, regardless of what it was or what you wanted, are a perfect example of a unit that is not random, but is still problematic.

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